How the XBox 360 changed my run on Tuesday

Or, rather, how it changed the way my brain works when I’m out running.

My relationship with my significant other was forged over many games of SuperMario Bros. on the Nintendo. This was circa 1990, when people still used cassettes and the Internet was still developing its eyelids. Since then, we’ve upgraded to a new gaming system every five years or so. This year marked the move from our beloved Playstation 2 to the XBox 360.

Although the purchase coincided with Christmas, what’s the point of waiting until some arbitrary date (December 25) to start enjoying it? We could well be dead by then. No time like the present to start frittering away time and working up to a good case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

We ordered a number of games (sword and sorcery for him, post-apocalyptic mayhem and alien destruction for me). But they look pretty complicated. So for the test drive we inserted the Indiana Jones Lego game that came with the system (suitable for 10 year olds and brain damage victims). Let me tell you, this game is like video crack. We’ve killed entire evenings this week in front of this brain-bender.

Brain bending is the point of this post, which I’ll get to. The game forces you to look at your environment in a new way and engage in creative problem solving. This translated into the real world for me on a rainy day run. Our running path follows the Bronx River and, in one section, it’s forced to go underneath the parkway of the same name. Unfortunately, the environmental engineer didn’t consider the effect of heavy rain on the river. As a consequence, when it rains heavily, the path under the roadway is flooded.

In the past, upon arriving at this spot and seeing six inches of water where a path should be, I opt to risk my life crossing a busy parkway, around a blind corner. On Tuesday, however, I had a completely different reaction. For the first time, I noticed a steel handrail with three horizontal rails running alongside the entire flooded area. “Hey,” I thought, “I can put my feet on the first rail, brace my knees against the second, and grip the third with my hands. Then I just need to scoot along the rail past the flooded part.”

And so I did, feeling very clever at having found an alternative to sprinting across two lanes of 50mph traffic.

Now I’m wondering how many other people have figured that out. And what percentage of them are 10-year-old video gamers.

5 Responses

  1. But did you do a summersault onto your feet at the end before continuing your run?

  2. First, I have only the vaguest notion of what an XBox is.

    Second, I call that the “Groucho Marx Bridge” for the waddling stride I adopt to get through. And I must admit to turning back when it’s flooded. What can I say? I don’t even know what an XBox is.

    (As an aside, we called the one-lane tunnel to the south the “Honky Tonky Tunnel” because in the old days there was no traffic light and you’d get close to it , honk, and drive through.)

  3. Do you know about parkour? Something new to conquer once you’ve run a sub 2:00. I’m convinced it came about because of just this phenomenon – agile people who play a lot of video games and think…hey…how hard could THAT be?

    All the other Lego PC-based games have been really good. I’m not surprised you’re having that much fun with it. Bring your whip with you next time, and you might get over the flood even faster.

  4. My life revolves around Nintendos old and new. DS on the train, original NES at home. I actually play Duck Hunt in my basement man room all the time. My wife thinks I’m surfing porn. But no, it’s Duck Hunt.

    Nintendo is a gift that keeps on giving. I’m handing over one (yes, I have several) of my original consoles to a friend as a wedding present on Saturday. Inside? The original Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo in one cartridge.

  5. Graham, would you friend also like a Dreamcast system AND Playstation 2 with around 25 games between them? I’m looking to unload these…

    We hold onto the original NES for reasons of nostalgia.

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